We've already looked at quite a few X48 motherboards, all due to arrive in the latter part of February. Those who are willing to spend a hefty sum are going to come out with some of the fastest systems ever seen to date. If this isn't you, don't worry as we've got a tip on the solution you've be looking for - MSI's most recently announced motherboard, the X48 Platinum. Targeted at the enthusiast audience that wants top performance without breaking the bank, this board brings with it all the goodness of Intel's latest X48 chipset with a price that is sure to delight. Although the board is certainly cheaper than the other X48 offerings we've looked at so far (at least, going by estimated MSRP), the X48 Platinum makes use of the more expensive DDR3 technology so in the end saving $100 on the board only to spend three times that much on memory makes price discussions rather pointless (at least until DDR3 becomes affordable).

We just managed to get our hands on Intel's brand new 45nm dual-core E8500 processor; unfortunately, this did not happen in time to include this beast in our early look at MSI X48 Platinum performance. Of course, "settling" for quad-core performance results when testing the board wasn't a difficult choice, but we know there are many out there that like to see what a motherboard can do when pushed to the limit with a high-clocking dual-core CPU. These results, including maximum FSB results for those of you that can't seem to live without this information, will be included in a follow-up review of our X48 collection prior to Intel's launch of this seemingly old but new chipset.

We also tried our hand at 4GB memory overclocking but ran into a couple of problems that prevented us from finishing all of our testing. At this time the X48 Platinum is much better at overclocking 2GB of memory, but there is no reason to think this won't change very soon. (We believe the problem is being created by a small discrepancy in a couple of bank-to-bank memory timings that can easily be corrected in the BIOS before release.)


If appearance is any indication of performance, we expect the X48 Platinum to do quite well when it comes to operating two or more ATI/AMD Radeon 3000-series graphics cards in CrossFire. Again, we have chosen to hold off reporting these results until we have had a chance to work with all of the major motherboard vendors. This way we can concentrate on bringing you an accelerated first-hand look at all of the products coming down the pipeline before we get into the specific details.

Both the Intel X48 Express chipset and NVIDIA's 790i release are just a few weeks away. It is quite probable that the decision on which platform to go with in the high-end market will rest entirely upon which multi-GPU solution ends up being better. On the other hand, if NVIDIA 790i fails to perform when it comes to overclocking 45nm quad-core CPUs then AMD/ATI could gain some traction in the multi-GPU arena in the first half of 2008, especially if CrossFire X drivers are ever released. We can't wait to see what NVIDIA has in store for us, but for now let's look at what MSI has managed to create using Intel's X48.

Specifications
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  • HotBBQ - Thursday, January 31, 2008 - link

    You cannot directly compare CAS latency across DDR revisions.

    "Consider the latency ratings of the three most recent memory formats: Upper-midrange DDR-333 was rated at CAS 2; similar-market DDR2-667 was rated at CAS 4 and today's middle DDR3-1333 is often rated at CAS 8. Most people would be shocked to learn that these vastly different rated timings result in the same actual response time, which is specifically 12 nanoseconds." - Tomshardware
    Reply
  • Mondoman - Friday, February 01, 2008 - link

    Actually, you can compare the latency pretty directly across DDR technologies, as shown in your example. 2 clocks at DDR-333 = 4 (twice as fast) clocks at DDR2-667 = 8 (four times as fast) clocks at DDR3-1333. Reply
  • tayhimself - Thursday, January 31, 2008 - link

    Please include stability testing. Who cares if you can get 1-5% more performance via exotic tweaks. Lets make sure that the board doesnt lock up when overclocked and laden with RAM by doing some stress testing. And make the stress testing transparent. These reviews are not as useful as or TR reviews for this reason. Reply
  • ATWindsor - Friday, February 01, 2008 - link

    And also test if the product supports other things than graphic-cards in the PCIe-slots, a card like this begs for it. Reply
  • kjboughton - Thursday, January 31, 2008 - link

    We will be including this type of information and much, much more in our upcoming X38/X48 motherboard round-up. As we mentioned in the review, this article is meant to provide you an early look at the layout, features, specifications, interesting BIOS options and a quick preview of any overclocking results. Stay tuned, we're confident we will address the concerns you brought to day in much more detail in just a short time. Reply
  • Vikendios - Thursday, January 31, 2008 - link

    And please let us know how Nvidia cards work in SLI under Intel chipsets, not only under Nvidia's chipsets.
    I am particularly interested in twinned 8800 GT, since AnandTech called them "The only cards that matter".
    Reply
  • OzoZoz - Thursday, January 31, 2008 - link

    We all know that nVidia does not "certify" this Intel chipset to run SLI, but does that mean it won't work? I agree with Vikendios: I would like to see how SLI performs on these Intel-based motherboards. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 31, 2008 - link

    I know of someone at a hardware site that was threatened with a lawsuit if they showed SLI performance on a non-NVIDIA system. (I don't know if those threats are still being sent around, but it wouldn't surprise me.) At present, the only way to make SLI work on a non-NVIDIA chipset requires a hack.

    Hacked drivers, but the latest drivers use some sort of encryption I believe so cracking them breaks the DMCA. I don't even know if anyone can break the encryption, and the last hacked drivers I heard about are quite old, XP only GeForce 7xxx or earlier only, and probably won't work with many modern games.

    The other approach that might work would be to hack your BIOS so that it identifies itself as an nForce chipset. I don't know exactly what would be required for the ID string, or if it would work properly afterwards.

    Note that SLI works on stuff like SkullTrail and PM945 (i.e. http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=307...">in my Alienware m9750 review) because there's an nForce 100 bridge chip in use. nForce 100 is the precursor to the nForce 200 that's used to provide 780i with dual PCI-E 2.0 slots.
    Reply
  • SoBizarre - Thursday, January 31, 2008 - link

    It seems that the author of this article is very much “into” memory stuff. I have a little suggestion. Why don't you consider writing kind of “Everything about motherboards & RAM” guide. You could cover some practical aspects which are NEVER addressed by reviewers. For example: On motherboard supporting up to 8GB of RAM (like the one reviewed today), what is the limiting factor for RAM amount? Is it electrical(?) design of PCB, or is the address space limitation of chipset (BIOS)? Because if the BIOS can not address more than 8GB of memory, memory remapping will not help and you just can't have 8GB of RAM available to your (64bit) OS. Is that the case? Personally I don't run Virtual Machines nor do I have other reasons for installing 8GB of RAM , but other people do. Besides, it would be nice to just KNOW. Reply
  • smeister - Friday, February 01, 2008 - link

    What's with the memory reference voltage?
    On the specification page (pg 2)
    Memory Reference Voltage Auto, 0.90V ~ 1.25V

    It should be half the DDR3 memory voltage
    1.5V x 0.5 = 0.75V, so should be: Auto, 0.75V ~ 1.25V
    Reply

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